Pedregon, Kalitta and Johnson lead qualifying Friday at Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals. CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Tony Pedregon continued to set the early season pace in Funny Car as the qualifying leader Friday at the Checker Schuck's Kragen...
Pedregon, Kalitta and Johnson lead qualifying Friday at Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals.
CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Tony Pedregon continued to set the early season pace in Funny Car as the qualifying leader Friday at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix.
Doug Kalitta and Warren Johnson also were leaders in their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the second of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Pedregon, winner of the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif. and current points leader, continued to have the quickest and most consistent Funny Car in the 6,000 horsepower category. Pedregon covered the quarter-mile distance in 4.797 seconds at 317.57 mph in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to lead the 16-car lineup.
"To be honest, after Pomona, that lap today really didn't surprise me that much," said a relieved Pedregon, who was not qualified after the first session. "Any time you aren't qualified after the first round you are concerned. I thought we would be conservative, but just because it's conservative for us doesn't necessarily mean that we won't run quick. It was the same situation in Pomona because we weren't qualified after round one there either."
Pedregon's Force Racing teammates -- Gary Densham (4.807 at 320.05) and John Force (4.829 at 321.81) -- powered their Castrol Ford Mustangs to the second and third positions. Johnny Gray drove his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird to the fourth position, recording a 4.850 at 312.28.
Kalitta was quickest in Top Fuel, clocking a 4.529 at 329.02 in his Mac Tools dragster.
Kalitta hopes the time will stand so he can claim his second No. 1 award in as many races.
"That would be a good habit to get into," Kalitta said with a grin. "We'll have to wait and see. I think the track has a 40 (4.4 second run) in it. Hopefully our time will hold up for tomorrow. We were a little too aggressive on the first run today, but (crew chief) Connie (Kalitta) backed it down some for the second run. He isn't bashful about throwing it all at it to see if it will stick. I was a little surprised that we ran that quick after he backed it down, but you just never know with Connie's tune-up."
Tony Schumacher was second in the U.S. Army dragster with a 4.545 at 323.50, while rookie Brandon Bernstein anchored the fourth position with a career-best performance of 4.551 at 323.81 in the Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster.
Defending series champion and current points leader Larry Dixon is not qualified after his 4.599 effort on his first pass was not allowed by NHRA tech officials when his Miller Lite dragster was found to be 15 pounds under the regulation weight following the run. On his second attempt, his machine lost traction near mid-track, putting him in 18th position overall.
Points leader Johnson topped the Pro Stock order with a track record run of 6.835 at 201.67 in his GM Performance Parts Pontiac Grand Am.
"It was a good run, but not a perfect one," said Johnson, who also had problems on his first attempt. "Our goal on that pass was to improve our qualifying position from outside the field to somewhere respectable. At least we know how much we can put in it tomorrow. If the weather conditions are right, I think there's probably a 6.70 in it."
Qualifying continues Saturday at 1 p.m. for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.